While the cheeky, mischievous nature of puppies is hard to resist in the early days, it is crucial to teach your new addition the ways of the world in the first 12-14 weeks of its life. This is when it’s still learning and developing behavioural patterns. Like children, puppies need to be acclimatised to the things around them and, in return, you will have a safe, healthy and happy dog friend. The more experiences they become comfortable with, the easier it will be for them to integrate with your life, and join in on fun things like trips away and social events. Argos Pet Insurance explains how you can make sure your puppy feels comfortable in a range of social situations…
Encourage your puppy to meet new people
Introducing your puppy to new people who are doing various different activities is crucial to their early development. For example, taking your puppy for a walk down to the local shops and giving them time to see people jogging or cycling past will teach them to get used to the sights and sounds of a range of people carrying out different physical activities. Your puppy will get past the stage of ‘stranger danger’ and learn to accept those who come in and out of their day with ease. Equally important is to familiarise your puppy with children and adults alike, so they don’t react badly to a new introduction down the line.
Help your puppy to explore new environments
Rather than just sticking to a standard walk, try and do different things such as going into a lift, standing on a train or allowing your puppy to ride in the car, with the appropriate restraints of course. Showing support and praise to your puppy when they explore these new situations by themselves is a great way to teach them to be accepting of change and not shy away from unknown territory.
Introduce new sounds
Focusing on sounds that your puppy might not hear in your everyday domestic life will ensure that your puppy doesn’t develop a fear of unknown noise. Loud sounds such as fireworks and thunder are often the cause of unease or phobia in your pup. You can download sounds on your phone and computer to play in the background to neutralise your puppy to these. Other things to be aware of are the doorbell and the banging of the letterbox.
Find doggy friends
Help your puppy to make friends with other dogs or pets, either your own or those living nearby, early on. If you already have a pet living at home it is important to introduce the smell of this pet to your puppy and vice versa over a period of time. Eventually, your puppy will feel comfortable with the smell and upon first introduction will feel more at ease once it recognises the familiar scent.
It is also important to note a few things not to do when socialising your pup in the early stages of their learning….
Don’t force your puppy
If your pup is uncomfortable with any of the new situations you introduce, back off. Making them do something they really don’t want to do can have detrimental effects. Allow your puppy to take things in their own time and offer praise when they are brave enough to explore by themselves.
Learn to read your puppy’s signals
Look out for signs of stress or when your pup is over-tired. Keep socialisation short but sweet. Small steps may seem repetitive but in the long run, will ensure the happiness of you and your puppy.
Don’t stop socialising your puppy
After the crucial learning period is over, it is important to carry on the significant training that you have already achieved and re-enforce socialisation. This will give your puppy confidence in their ability to thrive in new situations.
When to get help
If you feel like your puppy is struggling to adapt to its socialisation process, seek professional help. Some pups are more stubborn than others and can benefit from the help of an expert dog trainer who has probably seen everything! Your vet will be able to recommend a behaviourist or trainer who can make some constructive suggestions and offer advice should it be needed.
Most importantly, don’t forget to ensure your puppy to make sure they get any treatment they need to keep them happy and healthy. Always consult a vet, qualified behaviourist or relevant professional for advice and guidance.
This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.